There’s something sublime about a picnic blanket in a grassy field with live music. Reston has some excellent summer concerts at Reston Town Center and Lake Anne Plaza, but those two bustling, paved locations are lacking in a certain coziness. If you want to stretch out in the grass with some wine and music, you don’t have to head all the way out to wine country to do it. Just 15-20 minutes from Reston there is a lovely alternative.
I’ve heard mention of the weekly Concerts on the Green at Great Falls Village Centre, but I’d never been there to see one for myself. Last Sunday my family decided to go for the first time, and we ended up having a perfectly delightful summer evening.
Great Falls Village Centre is a retail and office complex near Georgetown Pike, in the main business district of Great Falls. The Village Centre is a collection of small buildings that resemble houses surrounding a grassy field. The buildings host restaurants, shops, and professional offices, and the Green is used for community events. The area feels homey and laid-back, removed from busy roads or tall buildings.
On Sunday evenings in the summer, the Village Centre hosts Concerts on the Green. People of all ages gather with picnic baskets to hear free, live music.
On the day that I attended, Emma Bailey and the Standing Room Only Rock Band performed an upbeat mix of pop and rock songs. Her voice was beautiful and the band was excellent. I will absolutely go see them perform again.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the summer at the Great Falls Concerts on the Green:
- 7/19/15: Jr. Cline & The Recliners — Rhythm and blues with full brass sound
- 7/26/15: South Bay — High energy pop, rock and alternative
- 8/02/15: The Morrison Brothers — Country and rock
- 8/09/15: Diamond Alley — Contemporary and classic hits
- 8/16/15: RAIN DATE
- 8/23/15: The Beat Hotel — New Orleans swamp funk
- 8/30/15: Dusty 45s — High-energy party music
- 9/06/15: Scott Kurt and Memphis 59 — Tom Petty meets Rascal Flatts
The band performs in a gazebo offset from the edge of the Green, which leaves plenty of open grassy space behind the stage for people to dance or run around. I saw lots of parents relaxing on their picnic blankets as their kids cartwheeled in the grass. Some families brought cornhole, Frisbees, or soccer balls to add to the fun. The Village Green is enclosed by buildings and removed from any streets, so it feels like a safe place to let your kids roam.
Another family-friendly aspect of the Concerts on the Green is their timing. While most local concerts begin at 7:00 or 7:30pm, the Concerts on the Green begin at 6:00pm, which makes them great choices for families with young children who need to get home early.
If you would prefer a more adult approach to your evening, grab a beer at the Old Brogue Irish pub and restaurant. It’s located at the Village Centre and has a patio that sits right on the Green. Unfortunately there isn’t a view of the stage from the Old Brogue, but you can hear the music as you sit on their patio and dine al fresco.
Other restaurants in the Village Centre include Peking Delight (Chinese) and Pio Pio Pollo (Peruvian and Mexican), where you can pick up some carryout for a picnic on the Green. Other carryout options are located in nearby shopping centers, including Deli Italiano, Subway, Kabob Place, Izumi Sushi, or Siciliano. And of course you can bring your own picnic dinner from home.
It is unclear to me whether alcohol is permitted on the Green, but I witnessed lots of people overtly drinking wine and beer with their picnics. I do know that dogs are not permitted on the Green, and that rule does seem to be enforced.
A perfect ending to a summer picnic is an ice cream cone, and Great Falls Village Centre has an ice cream shop right on the Green. The Great Falls Creamery serves delicious, organic ice cream in many flavors, as well as pastries made by Heidelberg Bakery. Grab a cone, milkshake, or cookie, and stretch back out on the grass as the sun sets behind you.
I had no idea what treasure I’ve been missing all this time over in Great Falls. The Concerts on the Green are a delightfully laid-back and cozy way to spend a summer evening. I know where I’ll be next Sunday evening. Perhaps I’ll see you there.